HB 1217: Gov. Noem’s changes, opponents say it’s still discriminatory

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Governor Kristi Noem has made a decision on one of the most controversial bills to come out of the 2021 legislative session. That decision is to send it back.

Friday, Noem sent House Bill 1217 back to lawmakers with some recommended changes. That includes limiting the impact to students in elementary and secondary school. She also wants to get rid of the section that would require students to sign a written statement verifying their sex and whether they’ve taken certain medications.

House Bill 1217 made national headlines because of the impact it would have on transgender athletes in South Dakota. Susan Williams, the founder of the Transformation Advocacy Project says, despite the changes Governor Noem is suggesting, the bill is still discriminatory.

“This bill, in any form, is just no good for the state and for transgender individuals within South Dakota,” Williams said.

The bill has been branded as “an act to promote fairness in women’s sports.” In her letter to legislators, Noem says her changes would protect women’s sports while also showing empathy to kids struggling with quote “what they understand to be their gender identity.” She goes on to say “showing empathy does not mean a biologically-female-at-birth woman should face an unbalanced playing field.”

Williams’ says HB 1217 is not the way to promote fairness.

“If we really wanted to promote fairness in women’s sports, we would treat coaches differently, we would pay them the same as we’re paying coaches of men’s sports and so much more can be done to promote equity with women’s sports,” Williams said. “This bill doesn’t do that. This bill is discriminatory against trans women. And anytime that you have a bill like this, that’s discrimination.”

Saturday afternoon the Transformation Project will be hosting a “Let Kids Play” rally at 41st and Louise in Sioux Falls from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

“Just to show the state that there are people here that are rallying around trans youth, especially trans youth that want to play sports and that we’re standing up for them and that we’re in their corner and we’re against this legislation,” Williams said.

If lawmakers agree with Noem’s changes, the measure will only need a simple majority to become law. It will no longer need the Governor’s signature.

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